Red’s Part, Part Five
Evenliir is a Mage.
She is also a Thief.
She is also an Elf.
She is Evil, cruel, haughty, beautiful, and vengeful.
She is also a woman.
It is this final description Red failed to focus on before.
It is that description which now leads Red through the streets of the sprawling city called The Allied Sellers Union. She knows Evenliir has been in ASU since at least the day after the party arrived. It takes no great wisdom to figure out how the Mage had located them. Anyone within miles of the volcano would have seen the flaming chariot they rode streaking straight west toward ASU, so certainly Evenliir would have had only to look up at the unusual sight to know which direction to travel to find her brother. Certainly, once there, she would rent a room within the city. She is an Elf, but she is a well-off Elf and one used to comforts. Even Melias is quick to look for a comfortable bed. What is difficult is finding a woman (who can change her form to anyone she wishes) in a city with hundreds of places to stay.
That problem Red has just solved.
It all makes so much sense, she wonders why it never came to her before. She had believed Evenliir was following her ever since she caught a whiff of her perfume while near the bank, but that may not have been the case. It wasn’t that the perfume was someone else’s; no, Red is certain of that. She had gotten a good sniff when she was carried up the side of The Volcano and it had a unique smell. There is no way a Human settlement would even have such a perfume available for purchase, since the Elves (especially this Elf) trade very little with the outside world and keep many such “cultural” items to themselves. No, Red now believes Evenliir may not have even noticed her at the bank. Why? Because Evenliir made no effort to attack is one reason, but the more pertinent reason leads back to how Percy smelled. That, and the two occasions party members encountered Evenliir since entering ASU.
On the first occasion, Arturus was on a date when he overheard Evenliir’s voice. He ran back to the inn, locked his date in his room, and warned the rest of the party. When he returned to his room it was not his date waiting for him in his bed, but Evenliir in disguise. Red knows most of this story and figured out the rest fairly easily. She (and the others) did make an important erroneous assumption, though. It is an assumption she repeated yesterday when she ran into Evenliir – an encounter which could have ended with the death of Lil. She could have caught Evenliir by surprise then, if she had only remembered about how Percy smelled.
When they were all in the volcano, Evenliir had taken Percy’s place, much like a Doppelganger would. She looked like him, moved (mostly) like him, and tried hard to act like him. But, she didn’t smell like him. What did she smell like? Not perfume! She smelled like everyone else who was with her – she smelled like the noxious fumes of a volcano! This seems like a meaningless fact, until placed into context. If a woman who douses herself with perfume walks out of a volcano smelling like, well, a volcano, then what would she do next? The only water source near the volcano was a well that was being used by a gang of Orcs and Red knows Evenliir couldn’t have made it there prior to Melias. When a woman like Evenliir emerged from the volcano, she would likely do just as Lil and Red (and most others in the party) had done: she’d get a room in ASU and take a bath. How else could she smell like perfume when Red caught her scent near the bank? Again, this seems like no big deal, until Red thinks it through.
Sure, there are a lot of places to take a bath in ASU, but where did the party run into Evenliir both times? At The Hot Spring Inn! Evenliir may have followed Arturus there, but she got a room right afterwards or she was already staying there. Of course she was. The first thing she would have done when she reached town was ask where the flaming chariot landed, fully two-thirds of the entire population had witnessed it fly over the city and hundreds (at least) had seen that it landed right next to The Hot Spring Inn. All she had to do was book a room and wait for Melias to appear. Her mistake was getting sidetracked, seducing Arturus. By the next night Melias had left. Red had assumed Evenliir followed her and Lil to the inn, too, but more likely, Evenliir had simply spotted them roaming through the halls near her room and took the opportunity to try and coerce them into saying where Melias had gone.
It seems so obvious now. Percy never smelled like Evenliir nor Evenliir like Percy, because everyone stunk like volcano. Evenliir had to have bathed. Where better to bathe in ASU then Red and Lil’s favorite spot: the springs inside The Hot Spring Inn!
Once inside, Red races to the clerk. “Greetin’s Hugh,” she says, through pants, “just learned me friend Melias’ sister’s stayin’ ‘ere, too. Ye think ye can tell me ‘er room number? She’d be mighty surprised ta see me!”
Hugh peers over the edge of the front counter and answers, “The Elf? No, sorry, madam Cobblestone, if there were a female Elf staying here, I’m sure I’d know of it.”
Red is emotionally crushed by this. How could she be so wrong? Then she smiles to herself. Evenliir can take on any form, why would she keep her true form and draw attention to herself? But, what form would she take?
Red ponders for a moment, then says, “Listen, Hugh, she’s a Mage-type and partial ta usin’ spells ta look different. Can ye think of anyone what might be her in disguise?”
After consideration, Hugh nods, then shakes his head. “But, I’m most sorry, Mistress Cobblestone, I can’t give out room numbers without knowing for certain. You understand don’t you?”
“That’s fine, Hugh. Sure ta be seein’ ‘er soon, anyhow. What time ye think it is?”
“Four hours before midnight,” he answers.
Red smiles big, “Mind ye if’n Red wanders the halls fer a spell?” she asks.
He nods and she races away.
At this exact moment, in a seedy tavern, Red’s plan is now in full swing.
Red’s quick search of the hallways of The Hot Spring Inn reveals them all to be empty. So, Red heads back to the front of the inn. A door to one of the rooms begins to open, so she slips around the corner. Whoever it is, they head in the opposite direction, so Red keeps out of sight. She considers the risk involved in roaming the halls. Her main objective is not to find Evenliir, it is to avenge Lil’s murder. It is fortunate she discovered where Evenliir is staying, but she can’t mess up her primary objective by pursuing a secondary one.
Red sprints back to the front desk and asks, “Hugh, ye have runners here, don’t ye?”
“Why, yes, Mistress Cobblestone. We have a very quick and clever boy who can memorize messages of up to twenty words,” Hugh answers.
“Won’t need twenny,” Red says, “jus’ two.”
Fifteen minutes later, a boy approaches Gruff as he sits in the Black Crow Tavern. The boy whispers two words in the Dwarf’s ear. His eyes widen and he whispers a question back. The boy answers, before running back outside. Gruff leans back in his chair and contemplates his next move.
So far, the plan is going along perfectly. Fino has already arrived at the tavern and sang a rousing song about the harrowing escape from certain death of an Elf Mage who can change her appearance, who was a leader in Metava until Creole turned on her and threw her into The Volcano.
A young man had also played a part earlier, when he came in and told the barkeep a wild story. The young man claimed to be a female Elf Mage with a magical necklace which allows her to take on the form of whomever she desires. The barkeep didn’t believe him, at first, but the young fellow is a skilled story-teller and he eventually had the barkeep less suspicious of his story. He even went so far as to say he would prove it. He claims he (or ‘she’) is on a mission from Metava to kill two talented assassins from Darkuth in order to regain a tarnished reputation there and that he/she had already slain and replaced the one and will be back to the tavern tonight with the other. The barkeep still had doubts, but that changed hours later when two assassins from Darkuth came into the tavern and one of them was wearing the same necklace the young man had worn. Unknown to the barkeep, one of Manchio’s female friends had told the assassins a young Priestess of Raim was giving away her jewelry to anyone who asked for it. One of the assassins couldn’t resist asking Beatrice for the necklace, which she immediately placed on his neck.
Gruff finally decides what he should do with the information the runner had shared. He leaves the tavern and searches out Manchio, quickly finding him behind the tavern, surrounded by his friends, who he is bragging to about the part he played in the scheme. Gathering the boys and girls around him, Gruff relates Red’s message to them. They excitedly discuss plans and decide what to do. Gruff leaves them to work their plan and returns to the tavern. The assassin without a necklace passes him on the porch, obviously headed toward the outhouse. Gruff makes it inside just as the barkeep approaches the other assassin.
“Another round, miss?” the barkeep asks the assassin wearing the necklace.
“Did you just call me ‘miss’?” the assassin asks, incredulously.
“It’s alright,” the barkeep whispers, “I’ll keep my voice down, Evenliir.”
The Darkuthian assassin, whose actual name is Black Marc, is slightly intrigued. “So, Evenliir is my name, eh?” he remarks.
“I have to tell you, Evenliir, I didn’t really believe your claims until you walked back in. Your disguise is perfect,” the barkeep continues. “Now, quickly, before the man you will be killing walks back inside, I never asked, how will killing two assassins allow you to get your position back in Metava? Will you be assassinating Creole?”
Just then, the second assassin returns and the barkeep steps away.
Gruff heard nothing of the conversation between Black Marc and the barkeep, but could tell it went as anticipated.
He avoids looking, as three of the youths he had spoken to behind the tavern enter loudly discussing how strange it was to actually have met the Mage Fino was just singing about.
Black Marc knocks over his chair, as he rushes to engage with the youths. “Where did you meet her?” he demands.
What follows is the group doing their best to act as if they are trying not to divulge everything they are trying to divulge, primarily the two words Red had passed from The Hot Spring Inn to Gruff: “She’s here.”
At The Hot Spring Inn the runner locates Red and tells her he successfully found Gruff at The Black Crow Tavern and relayed her message. The only question Gruff asked, he tells her, was from where he had just come.
“Good work, lad,” Red says and hands him a gold piece.
The boy bites it, to make sure it is real, then skips away.
Her plan to make Black Marc and his partner, Spider, believe Evenliir is aiming to kill them has apparently worked. The assassins will soon arrive to slay (or be slain by) Evenliir. She had originally planned on just letting the assassins find the Mage on their own, but speeding the process is even better. Either way she is betting Evenliir will kill the two of them, thus avenging Lil and neither Lil, nor herself, will be placed in danger. There is a flaw Red still sees in the plan, though.
She paces near the front desk for a full minute, before making her decision. The chance Evenliir was not at the inn or that she would not attack the men or that the assassins would catch her off guard, she decides, is too great. She needs to make certain Evenliir is there, aware, and ready. Walking through the halls, Red listens at each door. She hears a few voices, but none of them are Evenliir and she does not smell that familiar perfume. Peeking into the woman’s hot spring pool room, she sees only two people, a prepubescent girl and her sleeping mother. She is about to return to checking rooms when a thought crosses her mind: Evenliir could be either of them. She backs up and looks into the room again. The hot spring room appears the same as always, with the inviting bubbling and steaming water, surrounded by natural rock. Red admired the Humans for being clever enough to build their inn around the wonderful, natural – wait! Red cocks her head to the side.
“By Corma’s beard . . . “ she whispers. That is no Human girl perched naked atop the rock formations overlooking the pool – it is Evenliir herself! Red had seen Evenliir up close, but always in her full regalia, looking like the Evil Elf Mage she is, but nude she looks completely different. Red studies the waif-like woman as she prepares to dive into the shallow spring. Evenliir’s hair is pulled back revealing a neck much too thin for a full-grown Human woman and her arms and legs are thin, too, showing none of the slightly bulky muscle even a woman with mixed heritage like Lil has. The hairless skin of her body has no imperfections. It is as if she were carved from ivory. The only variance in color comes from the pink hue of her tiny nipples. Her breasts are, in fact, the only facet of her body to hint at adulthood, since they are too well developed for a girl, although they are cone-shaped and not pear-shaped, as with most women.
Red’s mouth drops open. This is the Evil Wizardess they had all vowed to kill? She is a tiny, delicate creature who looks too frail to even consider a life beyond the chores of a child. Red is overcome with guilt at placing such a child-like person in jeopardy.
Evenliir spots Red and shouts, “Don’t you even think about sticking even your stubby, Dwarf finger into this spring, you dirty, earth-foraging beast from a useless race of gold-obsessed, ungroomed, dim-witted worms! I just dumped a potion of Sweet Water in to remove your wretched stink and I’d rather swim in my own fecal matter than even touch unpurified water a Dwarf had touched!”
Red’s feelings of guilt abruptly disappear.
Looking to who she had thought was a sleeping mother, Red realizes the woman is dead. Sure enough, near her lay an empty potion bottle, too. Evenliir is not lying about purifying the spring.
She looks back up at Evenliir and smiles. “Ah, but it ain’t me goal ta have a dip,” she says, in the sweetest voice she can muster.
“’Ain’t me goal’ – why don’t you earth-maggots learn to speak properly? Oh, yes, I forgot, because you are so stupid,” Evenliir answers back, following with, “So, humor me, what is your goal, follower of Corma the Coward?”
Now Red is really second guessing herself. Maybe she should just let the assassins catch Evenliir off guard and cut her up. No, she will stick to the plan.
“Ta watch them two killers from Darkuth cut yer scrawny neck,” she answers.
Still nude and still standing atop the rocks, Evenliir rolls her eyes and says, “Alright, I’ll bite, what two killers and why do they want to kill me?”
Red wants to answer with ‘Who wouldn’t want to kill you’, but, insead, options for, “Gee, I dunno, seems ta me ye dinna leave such a good impression wit’ ol’ Creole in Metava. Ye think maybe he might wanna do away wit’ ye ‘afore ye show up some night an’ ambush ’em?” Red smiles, proud of the fact that asking questions like this isn’t really lying, although she knows she is stretching the definition pretty far.
Evenliir stands perfectly still for a second, then rolls her eyes to the side as if she is reading an answer within her own head, then replies, “You realize, of course, that telling me this before they get here will give me an advantage, right?”
“Countin’ on it,” Red replies.
“Because, them two assassins got strong reputations, so’s I figger if’n ye’s got a bit a’ an edge, then ye may all kill each other. Since assassins be scum anyhow, it sounds like a winnin’ situation ta me. ‘Sides, Red wants ta see a good fight.”
Without further comment, Red walks out of the bathing room to leave Evenliir to prepare.
By the time she reaches the front desk, Marc and Spider are entering the inn. Red knows just what to do.
“Hugh! An Elven Wizardess just killed a woman in the women’s hot spring room,” she shouts.
The two assassins look at each other, then run down the hall Red had just exited.
Hugh looks panicked, but Red quickly calms him, saying, “Don’t chase down any guards, give them two a chance ta rope in that witch. If’n they can’t, maybe then we can involve the city guard in aprehendin’ the murderer.”
He doesn’t look convinced, until Red places her hand on his and says calmly, “Trust me, Hugh. We’ll do what we can ta get justice fer yer guest.”
She is very surprised at what she sees when she returns to the spring and peers inside. The two men are slowly approaching the spring with their hands on the hilts of their swords, but Evenliir apparently hasn’t left the spot where she stood when Red left her. She is still standing naked atop the rocks at the opposite end of the small pool. Evenliir’s arms are akimbo and she is slowly swirling her hips in a slightly suggestive manner, an action which has the desired effect on the two assassins.
“Ewww,” Red says under her breath. She feels it is disgusting for any grown man to find Evenliir’s girlish Elf form sexually attractive. She’s seen ten year old Human boys with butts more shapely than Evenliir’s. Regardless of the lust in Marc and Spider’s eyes, they still advance menacingly. Evenliir was in the middle of a sentence when Red walked in, so she only heard some of what was being said. Evenliir didn’t seem angry, but her words were. “ . . . are telling me is that you two are not famed assassins?” she had asked, in a sweeter than normal voice.
“No, m’am,” Spider answers, “we are professional decoys. We go to a city and act like mysterious and dangerous men and spend a lot of gold, all the while making certain people overhear who we are – or who we are supposed to be. Meanwhile, while attention is on us, the real assassin finishes his or her assignment and leaves. All we have to do is make certain we are seen by a lot of people at the same time the murder is committed.”
Black Marc adds, “We have garnered some fame, but just because wherever we go people are assassinated and it is just assumed we are talented assassins by anyone not knowing that we were never really suspects.”
Red instantly understands the ramifications, if this is true. Firstly, these two didn’t kill Lil. Secondly, she has inadvertently placed two innocent men in a deadly situation. It is still possible the real assassin had slain Lil, but it is Evenliir who then asks the proper question to eliminate that possibility.
“So, my handsome Darkuthians, has the real assassination taken place yet?” she asks.
“No m’am, she hasn’t even arrived yet. The assassination will take place tonight at midnight, although we don’t even know who the target is,” Marc answers, now standing next to Spider at the edge of the pool, opposite Evenliir.
Evenliir dives from the rocks. The water is far too shallow for diving from such height, but somehow she is able to strike the water at just the right angle to skim the surface. She soon shoots out of the water with her arms stretched wide and lands on her back, barely spoiling the calm water surface. Floating on her back, Evenliir looks at the two men and whispers, “Now.”
Two streams of water burst out of the pool and wrap around the startled men! They are pulled from their feet and into the water, where they quickly disappear below the surface.
Evenliir calmly floats on her back, staring with a melancholy expression at the ceiling. She calls to Red, “’Skilled assassins’, eh, Dwarf?”
Until then, Red was not aware Evenliir knew she was there. She walks slowly toward the spring and shrugs. She has used the same device on Manchio to get him to talk and she knows the men can last a little longer underwater.
Evenliir spreads her legs into a full split, arches her back, and gracefully leans forward so she can float on her belly. As with the dive, Red is amazed at the woman’s agility. Evenliir gazes into the water and watches the panicking men fruitlessly clawing toward the surface. She chuckles and tilts her head, enjoying their suffering.
“Ye should release them soon, Evenliir, they won’t last much longer,” Red comments, suddenly feeling very much responsible for the men’s safety.
“Just a second longer . . . “ Evenliir whispers.
As Red prepares to jump into the pool, Gruff bursts into the room. Red looks back at her suitor and when she returns her gaze to the spring, Evenliir smiles and softly says, “Now.”
The two men’s lifeless bodies rise to the top of the water. Red has sent them to their deaths!
Evenliir pulls Spider’s floating corpse toward her and uses it to support her head, then crosses her feet on top of Marc’s dead body. “Leave me, Dwarf creatures, I’ll get around to killing you some other time,” she states, as she absent-mindedly fondles her breasts with one hand and casually searches through Spider’s pockets with the other.
“’Dwarf creatures’! Why you skanky Elf whore – I’ll not let that insult go unpunished!” Gruff growls.
Poking her head up to grimace at Gruff, Evenliir then pulls herself onto Marc’s body and leaps off him and onto the edge of the pool so quickly and gracefully Red believes even Melias couldn’t duplicate the act.
Evenliir walks to her robe and starts dressing, as she speaks to the two Dwarves. She starts with an insult.
“So, I take it this hairy little thing is your mate? I think that’s just sick, you know, the thought of two fat, smelly, members of your fat, smelly ‘race’ humping? Nasty, really. I mean, can he even get deep enough into the bug-ridden cavern between your legs for you to even know he’s there? Come on, everyone knows why Dwarf males grow such long beards: to make up for other shortcomings . . . “
Gruff charges past Red, but Evenliir is quicker. She casts a Hold Person spell on them both and snickers once she is certain she has affected each. Red and Gruff are unable to move. Evenliir smugly walks between them, talking all the while.
“You know, Dwarf, I never could motivate my brother, Melias, very well. The fool! His brothers were entirely different, though. Each of them took a stab at besting me and each one failed. So, in turn, each became my pupil and my henchman. Melias’ turn is way overdue. I’ve decided you will assist me in this endeavor. You see, I’ve found a way to motivate Melias. I found his little girl friend. I found her and shut her up in a room with his brothers, each one had an illusion cast on him so he looked like Melias. They gang raped and beat her a few times, then I came in and did even nastier things to her. Can you imagine her ever being able to see Melias in a romantic way after that? Yea, I know, pretty clever of me. We’ll, anyway, I now decide whether she lives or dies and there is no way for him to find either of us, so he will have to wait until I find him again. Actually, I’m in no real rush; I’d rather just wait until the mood strikes me to hunt him down. Of course, Melias doesn’t know about his little Amerilia’s misery, so that eliminates the torture he could be enduring as he waits for my return. This is where you come in. You are going to tell Melias the fate of his beloved. Of course, I know you realize all I would have to do is follow you to locate him and you don’t want to do that, so I’ve decided to motivate you as well.”
She positions Gruff so he is looking directly at Red (the angry expression still frozen on his face from when he was charging Evenliir) and takes Red’s ax (the one Gruff gave her). With a look of glee on her face, Evenliir hacks Gruff in the shoulder, left arm, and groin.
“I figure watching him bleed to death, while you are helpless to save him, should be motivation,” Evenliir says, off-handedly, and leaves the room, changing into the form of Gruff and blowing Red a kiss as she exits.
To be concluded . . .
To be continued . . .
Follow The Realms: A World Apart
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.